Finally, I can spare some time to write this second part. Let’s continue further west then.
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
After getting up very early and photographing the sunrise at the Horseshoe bend (see pt 1.), we went back to the house in Page, loaded our stuff into the trunk and headed out again.
We made a quick stop at the Navajo bridge, but the light wasn’t very nice with the sun high up in the sky.
After arriving at the North Rim – we chose to go to the North Rim, because we don’t like tourists, and because I hoped to get a chance to photograph the sunset from Cape Royal – they informed us that there were some massive forest fires that blocked most of the hikes and trails, including Cape Royal.
News like these can easily ruin my mood, but the announcement of a massive thunderstorm made it even worse. The ranger told us that we shouldn’t go too far down the North Kaibab trail. Luckily, we didn’t, because it started to pour down before we even started our hike back up the trail. Small rivers came down the trail and we got soaked to our underwear on the run back to the parking lot. Was it worth it? Sure, the view from the viewpoint was absolutely breathtaking and the rain was warm, running up the hill exhilarating and we couldn’t stop laughing when we finally sat in the alcantara seats of our like-new rental, dripping wet.) Unfortunately, the light was really poor, flat and boring, because of the upcoming thunderstorm.
Knowing that we wouldn’t be able to hike for a long time, we made reservations for dinner early, because I still had some hopes for the sunset from the viewpoint at Bright Angel Point. So, after getting soaked, we returned to the Lodge, had a shower and ran (again) to the Lodge, arriving one minute late for dinner. The lady had a hard time not laughing at us, but she knew right away that our issue was with the ridiculous time zone change between Utah/Arizona.
Now that we had a full hour to kill, we strolled to the viewpoint to determine the right spot to take pictures.
Well, dinner was great and we made it to our viewpoint in time. We ended up sitting (I’m terribly afraid of heights) on that rock formation in the center of the viewpoint. Some people were afraid for our lives and the ranger made sure that we could hear him when he told them that they couldn’t do anything about those “reckless” tourists, and how they had to clean the Canyon every so often because one of them died climbing where they weren’t supposed to.
The sunset wasn’t as epic as I had hoped, but it still wasn’t too bad.
The next day, we drove on to Zion. (Yes, we should’ve gone there first, but I messed up the reservations 6 months before the trip.)
Zion National Park, Utah
The absolute highlight of our trip – when it comes to hiking, rocks and canyons – Zion National Park. When planning our trip to Zion, I realised that we should’ve stayed there for half a week at least. The park has so many great things to offer. Wading up the river, visiting the Subway caves, hiking various areas, etc.
It took me a full day to make up my mind, because the one thing that I wanted to do (and simply didn’t want to at the same time) was Angel’s Landing. Seeing the pictures, I knew that I had to get up there and take some photographs myself. Then again, seeing the pictures of the hike, I knew that I couldn’t do it (afraid of heights, remember?). Well, f**ck it, I said, and the decision was made.
We started the hike right after we arrived, at noon (and >35°C). Interestingly, we were very, very fast on our way up. The views are amazing. (Excuse the light leaks from the lens)
Did I mention, that I’m afraid of heights? The chain that keeps you from falling off the ledge is only on one side of the trail. Crossing is kinda “fun”.
My girlfriend offered to turn back at the Scout Lookout. All of a sudden, however, all my fear was gone. I was hellbent to get up there, take my pictures and enjoy the view. And it was worth it.
The view up river.
With some foreground “interest”.
And the view down river.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take any more pictures. We met some local wildlife down in the valley, where I went into the water to cool my feet. After a night in springdale, we drove on to Las Vegas the next morning.
Las Vegas, Nevada
Do you know that famous saying “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas”?
Nah, I simply didn’t bring the Fujica with me when we explored the city. After one night, we already continued on further west, even though I could’ve spent another day or two in Vegas. This was our longest hop at nearly 8 hours in the car.
Three Rivers, California
We spent the night in Three Rivers, California, in an Airbnb hosted by a park ranger. Incredibly cozy place and I got my first chance at the Milky Way, although not with the Fujica.
The next morning, we headed out to visit King’s Canyon and the Sequoias. The 28mm, once again, turned out to be quite limiting, especially compared to the 10-24mm on the Fuji X-T10.
It does make for some nice starbursts, though.
Which can’t be said for the work against bright light. (The sun isn’t even in the frame..)
King’s Canyon is quite impressive (ignore the waste that people seem to feel obliged to drop everywhere).
There were fires raging in this canyon as well, who would’ve thought?
We visited the General Sherman Tree, but I refused to take any pictures, because the tourists drove me nuts! However, we were basically alone when we visited the tunnel tree (we even took some “selfies” standing on the tunnel).
We drove quite a bit further at the end of the day, to spend the night in the beautiful town of Fresno. We chose Fresno so that we could enter Yosemite from the south and early in the day.
Yosemite National Park, California
We got in without the need to stop ever. Road was clear and only a few other tourists chose the south entrance like we did. Since this is “the” park in the west, we stayed there for two nights, loding in the Curry Village at the end of the park road.
The first day, when we arrived, we drove up to Glacier point to get a good look at the half dome (which, unfortunately, we couldn’t climb up because I forgot to play the “lottery”).
On our way back, we visited Sentinel dome and enjoyed the view a lot more than from Glacier Point. We decided to go back there in the evening, to photograph the sunset and the milky way and stuff like that.
View down the valley, at sunset:
Getting back to the car afterwards turned out to be the scariest hike of my life. I didn’t dare to turn my lantern anywhere else than in front of my feet for fear of being stalked by bears.
The next day, we decided to do the Upper Yosemite Falls Trail (since we couldn’t climb up Half Dome). This was good fun, but not nearly as impressive as Angel’s Landing. And it was way too crowded with tourists.
The Lower Falls
And the Upper Falls
At the top, there was a Rattle Snake “chilling on the rocks”. The boy who scared her off slithering some feet behind my back almost had me throw him down the waterfall.
I couldn’t get myself to like the white granite as much as I love the red sand stone in Arizona/Utah.
Impressive viewon our way back down into the valley.
Nice angle on the Half Dome and the Upper Falls.
My Fuji X-Pro1 got left behind in the car and showed some severe issues due to the extreme heat in the car. Not sure it ever fully recovered from that. Also, the brand new flip cover I had bought for the Nexus 9 had melted in some places. Damn the heat.
The next day, we drove on to San Francisco.
San Francisco, California
I really liked San Francisco for the way the architecture and the people. But the climate, damn the climate. And they call Chicago the “windy city”? Our Airbnb host was an amazing guy and the room was “affordable” for San Francisco standards, but we paid less for our huge room on the 25th floor of the Mirage in Vegas.
Didn’t take all too many pictures in SF, I’m afraid. The first evening, we visited the Palace of Fine Arts. Tried to do a long exposure (20s) with the Fujica and it turned out quite alright.
From a little further away, next to the street.
We visited Alcatraz the next morning. Incredibly impressive place, totally worth the money.
View from the island.
In the afternoon, we rented some bikes and rode over the Golden Gate Bridge. There was fog..
When we arrived on the other side, the fog started to clear just a little, and I could take some more pictures.
Thanks to the wind, I guess?!
Unfortunately, there are no further images from SF. I took hundreds with the digital Fuji, though.
Stay tuned for pt. 3, down Highway 1 through Monterey, Big Sur, etc.